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Haiti: Older people stuggling in the earthquake aftermath

30 Mar 2010

Although Les Cayes was not directly affected by the earthquake, the older people living there are feeling its consequences.

I met with around 30 older people in La Savanne, one of Les Cayes' poorest neighbourhoods.

Most of the older people I spoke to had five or more children who were unemployed. A lot of them had mobility problems or other disabilities, such as blindness. Many complained of muscle ache and pain.

"I've lost my husband. My children cannot help me. I am abandoned"

About half of them had relatives living in Port-au-Prince who had been sending them help before the earthquake. However, these relatives are now unable to do so because they are homeless and living in camps.

Julienne, 63, said: "I had 10 children, I lost four children, one of them to the earthquake. I've lost my husband. My children cannot help me. I am now an orphan, I am abandoned."

Significantly, prices have dramatically increased since the earthquake. For example, a 25kg bag of rice which used to cost US$22.5 is now sold for US$31.5 dollars. Cooking oil prices have increased from US$5 a gallon to US$7.5. A 50kg bag of sugar was US$31, but now costs US$56.

Wheat flour, which is used to make bread, Haiti's staple food has more than doubled in price, from US$25 a bag to US$62.5.

"I am taking care of seven grandchildren"

The price of school textbooks and provisions has also gone up. The grandchildren older people are caring for are being sent home from school because they cannot pay tuition fees.

Serfila, 60, said: "I have cataract. I have five children. Two are living in Port-au-Prince. One of them lost her house and her husband. They used to help me with money but now I do not receive anything. I am taking care of seven grandchildren. Five have been sent back to me from their school for not paying tuition."

Read more about HelpAge's work in Haiti.

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Author profile

Bertin Meance
Country: Haiti
Job title: Program Support Manager

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.